Naked women are videoed and photographed to advertise everything from clothing (oddly) to hamburgers and no one bats an eye. The instant a breastfeeding mother posts a photo of her infant feeding, Americans lose their collective minds.
The latest buzz is about one Charlotte McKinney, who has filmed a Carl Jr.’s burger ad where she appears to be in the buff until the very end. Her personal parts are strategically hidden behind pieces of fruit that constitute double entendre so thin one could read a newspaper through them. The reviews thus far are mostly positive, raving about her gorgeous curves, fresh face, and comfort level while naked, or nearly so.
Kim Kardashian made no such effort to cover the parts of herself deemed indecent by entities such as the FCC, and the internet raved over her bravery, her beauty, her artistic expression.
Scantily clad women strut down catwalks for heavily televised events, such as the Victoria’s Secret fashion show, which drew almost 10 million viewers, with no public outcry against it. Lingerie ads adorn billboards, mall walls, magazines, and television spots on a regular basis. Calvin Klein ads have tiptoed along the lines of obscenity for ages, but the company has been called edgy for their visions, and drawn overwhelming support in the form of sales.
Americans seem to have no problem with bare skin, toned exposed stomachs, and nearly naked breasts — if they’re by themselves and on display. Place a baby in front of one of those breasts, and the owner of that breast will find herself under attack.
Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr, paid and famed for baring her amazing body, caused an uproar by tweeting pictures of her son nursing. Supermodel Gisele Bundchen caught her fair share of flak for sharing nursing photos, and Alyssa Milano recently suffered harsh criticisms in response to her black and white nursing picture.
Everyday American women suffer much more than vitriolic internet commentary. Nursing mothers are frequently chastised, criticized, and thrown out of public places, despite the fact that a myriad of state and federal laws protect the rights of a breastfeeding mother. A Maryland casino recently tossed out a breastfeeding dyad, calling the baby a security threat. Numerous shops and stores including Target and Anthropologie in Beverly Hills have “escorted” nursing mothers out, only to find themselves subjected to nurse ins by other breastfeeding mothers to show support and raise awareness of the legality of the actions. Nursing mothers have also been humiliated and asked to leave places such as churches (many of which showcase paintings of the Virgin Mary breastfeeding the baby Jesus), doctors offices (medical professionals who routinely tout the benefits of breastfeeding), hospitals (ostensibly the same medical professionals), restaurants, and court rooms. What most people fail to realize is that nursing mothers are not subject to stipulations. Nursing moms are not legally required to “cover up” or go to a private place. The majority of laws that protect nursing do so unequivocally. If a woman and her child are legally allowed to be in that place, they are allowed to breastfeed in that place. Breastfeeding is equatable to dining, and nothing else.
Americans have a strange obsession with breasts. If they are used for advertising, then they’re A-ok. If used for breastfeeding — their physiological purpose — then they are dirty, indecent, and abnormal. What a confusing world in which to be a woman, let alone a breastfeeding one.